Decades of California Sparkling Tradition
J Vineyards & Winery’s Rich History of Extraordinary Bubbly
For more than 30 years, J Vineyards & Winery has been focused on crafting extraordinary sparkling wines that help consumers discover the brilliance of this effervescent category.
The J story begins in the cool, fog-shrouded Russian River Valley, where the winery was founded in 1986 as one of California’s only dedicated sparkling wine houses. The model for J came from the centuries-old traditions of winemakers in Champagne, France.
In the 1990s, J expanded its portfolio to include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, including several single-vineyard and small-lot wines. These wines have found dedicated fans among the winery’s large base of sparkling advocates, as well as helped introduce the sparkling portfolio to consumers who may not have been aware of J’s groundbreaking history in sparkling wine.
BEGIN WITH THE LAND
Crafting exceptional sparkling wine begins, like many wines, in choosing the ideal site to grow the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier used to create traditional method bubbly. A trained geologist, founder Judy Jordan recognized that the exceptionally flavorful, high-quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the Russian River Valley is enhanced by the region’s incredibly varied soil structure and geography. And so, J Vineyards & Winery was born.
Today, the J Vineyards & Winery team works to translate the diversity of the Russian River Valley to the bottle. From the rugged, forested terrain along the cool, windy Pacific Coast, to the bright, sun-drenched hillsides close to the languid, winding bends of the Russian River, each J estate vineyard offers a distinct expression of its unique location within the vast Russian River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA).
Diverse soils and cool, coastal micro-climates create unique growing conditions to maximize flavor expression. In this renowned winegrowing region, J Vineyards & Winery is a true steward of the land, tending to cool-climate grape varieties that offer fruit-forward flavors and a crisp natural acidity.
The winery team is selective in its harvest management and winemaking practices, which ensures the fruit is of the best quality possible. They hand-harvest fruit at night into small bins, then gently press the whole-cluster fruit using two, rare Coquard presses.
Designed in Champagne, France, specifically for sparkling winemaking, the Coquard press keeps the clusters in place during press, minimizing skin and seed contact and restricting the extraction of harsh components. Only a handful of these presses can be found in the United States.
A SPARKLING TRADITION
In the cellar, J Vineyards & Winery blends the centuries-old traditional method sparkling winemaking technique with their modern, Sonoma County-inspired outlook to create standout sparkling wines.
After winemakers Nicole Hitchcock and Scott Anderson compose the blend for each wine, our Cuvée 20 Brut and Brut Rosé undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. The sparklers are allowed to rest on the lees (called en tirage) for at least two years before being disgorged. After dosage, where a small blend of reserve wine and pure cane sugar is added to the sparkling wines, the sparklers are given an additional six months to age under cork before release.
While the techniques, grape varieties and traditions used by J are centuries old, Hitchcock and Anderson aim to create bright, distinctively Sonoma Sparkling Wines with Cuvée 20 and Brut Rosé. The Russian River Valley presents much different soil profiles and climate than Champagne, France. J does not try to emulate the French style, instead focusing on establishing California as a world-class sparkling region. J’s sparkling wines bring a brightness to the fruit flavors while still offering nuanced nutty and brioche characteristics from extended lees aging.
Sparing no detail, even the J sparkling bottle is truly unique. The design was inspired by the ubiquitous “little black dress,” a timeless piece with enduring style. The custom bottle has a softer, gentler curve from the neck, that elegantly tapers to the base, accompanied by a single, bold accessory: the signature J brushstroke.
Originally released in honor of the winery’s 20th anniversary, Cuvée 20 has evolved and grown over the last decade. It is a sparkling wine with beautiful nuance and depth, a fantastic balance between delicate fruit notes and the aged, creamy complexity of traditional method sparkling wine. The J Brut Rosé is a perennial favorite, from its appealing pale pink color to its Pinot Noir-driven emphasis on delicate red fruit notes balanced by appealing, brisk acidity.
With their small-lot wines, J further explores the depth and breadth of Sonoma County Sparkling. Increasing the sparkling portfolio with a wide array of styles and the time J has dedicated for these wines to rest en tirage provide evidence of the winery’s strong commitment to producing Luxury tier California Sparkling Wines.
J has also invested in its hospitality experience, reflecting the quality and pedigree of the wines being offered. These updated experiences allow visitors the chance to share their love of J with family and friends, while the hospitality and culinary teams help inspire guests with new ways to enjoy the wines at home.
In late 2016, J unveiled a larger and more luxurious Bubble Room, expanding on the winery’s pioneering culinary history that began in 1999. The Bubble Room offers a seated, five-course food and wine pairing from Executive Chef Carl Shelton, who joined the winery from a Michelin three-star restaurant. The focus during this experience is pairing J’s sparkling and varietal wines with his innovative, seasonal and locally-sourced dishes.
J also renovated its Legacy Lounge experience, offering an expanded space for the seating tasting flight experience, including an artisanal cheese pairing.
This culture of warm hospitality extends to how the brand engages with consumers overall, driving a track record of high loyalty and advocacy — including particularly strong advocacy for J’s sparkling portfolio. According to E. & J. Gallo in-house research, J sparkling wine buyers recommend the winery’s bubbles at the highest rate of any California Sparkling Wine.1
For more information about the opportunity to share California Sparkling Wines, see “Unlocking Growth with California Sparkling” on winedialogues.com.
1. Internal E&J Gallo Research, US Sparkling Wine Tracking Study, 2017.
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